The Bulava, a solid fuel missile, was blasted off from the nuclear submarine Dmitry Donskoy in the White Sea, Interfax reported. Senior officers including Russias naval chief, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, observed the launch. The test involved ejection of a full mockup of the “Bulava” missile from a submerged submarine “to a height of several tens of meters, where the sustainer engine is supposed to start”, Kommersant reported. During the previous test in December 2003 the submarine stayed on surface. Earlier this year, Russian military forces suffered two embarrassing failures of ballistic missile launches from submarines during highly publicised naval manoeuvres.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30) is the submarine-launched version of Russias most advanced missile, the Topol-M (SS-27) solid fuel ICBM. The SS-NX-30 is a derivative of the SS-27, except for a slight decrease in range due to conversion of the design for submarine launch. The SS-27 has is 21.9 meters long, far too large to fit in a typical submarine. The largest previously deployed Russian SLBM was the R-39 / SS-N-20 STURGEON, which was 16 meters long. The Bulava will have a range not less than 8,000 km, and is reportedly features a 550 kT yield nuclear warhead.